What Is a Ward of the State?

Becoming a ward of the state sounds like an ominous event, but it is actually meant to be an act of goodwill and good faith on the part of the government. Often a person, either a child or adult, becomes a ward of the state due to a loss of ability to care for themselves properly through no real fault of their own. The details of the ward’s requirements and rules that apply to caring for a ward of the state vary from state to state.

Child Wards

If a child has been neglected or abused, and it has been proven, then a court may step in to appoint a guardian to ensure their safety and well-being. Often this is temporary until the child can be placed with family or if the parent or supervising guardian successfully completes parenting or anger management courses. A minor that becomes a ward of the state is protected by law. The appointed guardian is tasked with finding a suitable home, schooling and other details for the child to be able to grow in a safe environment.

Adult Wards

When adults are deemed incompetent or incapable of making independent decisions, they are often made a ward of the state by a family member or nursing home if they have no immediate family to care for them. Physical disabilities can require them to need consistent care provided by the state that is beyond what their family can provide. Mental disabilities or impairments due to age or an accident can bring an adult to the courts to be made a ward of the state.

When an adult enters court to petition to become a ward a guardian is appointed to them from the local government. The guardian is allowed to make decisions for the ward based on the ward’s best interest. This can include paying rent or mortgage so that it doesn’t get in arrears, providing health care to come to the ward’s place of residence and ensuring the health care worker is providing quality services.

Types and Benefits

There are voluntary and involuntary guardianships for wards of the state. People who are unable to handle their estates or pay bills can receive voluntary guardianships. If the court deems a person incompetent, a guardian is appointed regardless of the wishes of the ward. Becoming a ward of the state due to incompetency protects the adult ward. Their money and property are bound by the guardian and protected so that the ward can’t get taken advantage of by miscreants looking for a mark. The law requires that the guardian look out for the ward’s best interest.